Christian Movie Establishment vs. Blue Like Jazz? Three Perspectives

The Controversy over the Controversial Movie Adaptation of Donald Miller’s Controversial Best-Seller May Be This Year’s “Love Wins”

“I’m glad movies like Fireproof exist, and I wish its makers continued success. But most of my movie-going friends are ready for a different representation of their faith beyond what the Christian Movie Establishment is currently serving.”

………………………………….-Steve Taylor, Writer-Director, Blue Like Jazz, The Movie

Well, you sure can’t say that Christian movies don’t have the potential for great gossip tabloid fodder. An unexpected feud between Blue Like Jazz writer-director Steve Taylor and some of the key players in recent family-friendly “Christian Films” has the potential to be nearly as divisive as last year’s Rob Bell “Love Wins” Controversy.

While Two Handed Warriors is publishing links to some of these conversations below, I can’t emphasize enough our desire that everyone follow The Apostle Paul’s Cyber-Relationship Checklist we developed for last year’s major controversy:

SAINT PAUL’S BLOGGING CHECKLIST: Do not press “send” until your blog post scores 5 out of 5 on the first set of questions, and zero out of 5 on the second.

Is this post?
(1) Patient
(2) Kind
(3) Free from envy
(4) Devoid of boasting
(5) Stripped of arrogance

Or is this post?
(6) Rude
(7) Self-seeking
(8) Angry
(9) Unforgiving
(10) Believing/assuming the worst about others

Praying that even in the battle for artistic excellence, Love finally Wins,




The Christian Movie Establishment vs. Blue Like Jazz

by Steve Taylor

Box Office Mojo Categorizes The Matrix (1999) "Action - Wire-Fu" genre. Who knew there even is an "Action - Wire-Fu" genre?

The website is full of useless statistics that I check regularly. One of its most fascinating and terrifying features happens when you click on “Genres.”

Fascinating, because who knew that “Mother” was a genre (Mamma Mia!)? Or that The Matrix falls under the sub-genre “Action – Wire-Fu”?

Terrifying, because somebody will eventually be categorizing Blue Like Jazz inside a genre box. And it won’t be me.

But the one box I don’t want to occupy (besides “talking animal”) is “Christian Movie.”

Why should this be? The movie was written and directed by Christians. And it’s based on a book with the subtitle “Non-religious thoughts on Christian spirituality.”

But over the last five years or so, “Christian Movie” has calcified in the public consciousness into a genre where:

  • Sentimentality trumps substance
  • Good intentions trump artistry
  • All conflict must be tidily resolved
  • “Safe for the whole family” is a de facto requirement
  • Or as writer David McFadzean summarized, Christian movies are like porn – poorly lit, poorly acted and you always know how they’re going to end.

I’m not saying this critique is always fair or justified. In the case of the best known movies in this genre –Facing The Giants, Fireproof, etc. by the Kendricks Brothers – I’ve given them props in the past for being good visual storytellers and actually getting movies made with the resources at hand. But they’ve also contributed to (and possibly cemented) the aforementioned stereotypes.

So maybe I should be flattered that, based on recent evidence, the Christian Movie Establishment they represent is out to get us…

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A Christian Conspiracy Against ‘Blue Like Jazz’?

Director Steve Taylor says Provident Films and Sherwood Pictures are ‘out to get us.’

by Mark Moring

According to Taylor, “Christian Movie” has calcified into a less-than-stellar genre in the public consciousness

The director of Blue Like Jazz, a film based on Don Miller’s popular book, says that the “Christian Movie Establishment … is out to get us.”

That’s what Steve Taylor, director of the film that releases next month, wrote in a provocative blog post this morning at the Blue Like Jazz website, a post that also went out to thousands of subscribers to the film’s e-newsletter. Taylor claimed that the executive producer of Courageous, Fireproof and Facing the Giants has declared that no one who worked on Blue Like Jazz would ever be allowed to work on one of his own movies. Taylor also wrote that a studio exec requested that the Blue Like Jazz trailer not be shown prior to another Christian film opening this weekend.

Taylor wrote that Sherwood Baptist Church executive pastor Jim McBride—a producer on Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants—had “issued what amounts to a fatwa against Blue Like Jazz when he made it known that nobody who worked on our movie would be allowed to work with them in the future.” He also wrote that this “edict” was issued before Jazz had ever been screened.

CT was unable to verify Taylor’s claim, but Taylor insisted that two of his “trusted associates” had seen the memo from McBride, which Taylor says came out last May. Taylor says he asked his associates to verify the accuracy of his blog post before it went live; he told CT they both said, “Yeah, it’s accurate.” Taylor added, “I wouldn’t write something like that just based on hearsay.”

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‘Blue Like Jazz’ Film Aims To Be Christian, Not ‘Cheesy’

by Rebecca Cusey

(RNS) Do not confuse the upcoming film “Blue Like Jazz” with Christian market movies like “Fireproof” or “Courageous.”

“A Christian movie genre has formed. Our first goal with this movie is that we didn’t fit into this genre,” said director Steve Taylor.

Author Donald Miller, who wrote the 2003 best-selling book “Blue Like Jazz,ÕÕ from which the movie was adapted, agrees.

“We wanted to show that movies about the faith struggle that millions of Americans deal with don’t have to be cheesy,” he said. “They don’t have to have bad actors. They don’t have to be low budget production. They can compete with other films at the box office.”

“Most Christian artists if we’re really honest with ourselves, we want to be accepted by other creatives who are not people of faith, just general market folks.”

If it’s acceptance they are looking for, Taylor, 54, and Miller, 41, have found a measure of it in the secular world. The film will be distributed by Roadside Attractions, which markets such decidedly non-religious films as “Winter’s Bone” and “I Love You, Phillip Morris,” an unusual endorsement for a faith-based product…

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See also:

The Future of Faith-Based Filmmaking: Series Introduction

If  You Live It, They Will Come… to the Movie Theater: Better Faith-Based Filmmaking through Better Stories

Why Christians are Creating More Edgy Art

Opening Doors for Others: An Interview with Writer-Director Brian Bird